Thunder Mountain High School’s Kiah Dihle came in third for the state of Alaska in the Alaska School Activities Association’s 2021 state championships, hosted in Anchorage, on Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Kent Mearig)

Thunder Mountain High School’s Kiah Dihle came in third for the state of Alaska in the Alaska School Activities Association’s 2021 state championships, hosted in Anchorage, on Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Kent Mearig)

Juneau cross country teams cross muddy finish line on season

Thunder Mountain’s Kiah Dihle placed third overall for Alaska.

Juneau’s high school cross country teams wrapped up their season at the state meet over the weekend, hosted in Anchorage by Bartlett High School.

Thunder Mountain High School’s Kiah Dihle finished third overall for the D1 girls with a time of 19 minutes and 40 seconds, while Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s Sam Holst was the first Juneau finisher with a time of 17:50.

JDHS girls took home third place, while the boys finished up in ninth. TMHS did not field full teams.

“It was good for us to get a chance to take some kids up there to states. We had a couple who were returning. Obviously Kiah has been up to states. This is her fourth year,” said TMHS assistant coach Kent Mearig in a phone interview. “She finished third in the D1 race. It was not her top time of the year, but the course was in really rough shape.”

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Heavy rain made conditions less than favorable, Mearig said, particularly for the D1 girls, who raced last of six.

“The courses up around Anchorage are nothing but hills. It’s a little bit different than what (Dihle) was able to train for. She really ran her heart out,” Mearig said. “It rained all morning. It was raining pretty hard from the time we woke up to midway through the other races. It was the sixth race of the day. By the time the D1 girls ran there had been multiple hundreds of runners through the course.”

Thunder Mountain High School’s Darin Tingey sprints for the finish during the Alaska School Activities Association’s 2021 state cross country championships, hosted in Anchorage, on Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Eric Hanson)

Thunder Mountain High School’s Darin Tingey sprints for the finish during the Alaska School Activities Association’s 2021 state cross country championships, hosted in Anchorage, on Oct. 9, 2021. (Courtesy photo / Eric Hanson)

JDHS had strong finishes, said co-coach Merry Ellefson, with many runners getting good experience for future races.

“We applauded all of our team members. All runners are brave, everyone who puts themselves out there,” said Ellefson in a phone interview. “In the broader perspective, we’re excited about how all of Southeast did, when you look from Haines to Sitka to Petersburg.”

While JDHS dealt with a similarly muddy course, Ellefson said it was good practice for a strong team of rising runners.

“I’ve been going up there for a decade or more. It’s been worse and it’s better but everyone runs the same course,” Ellefson said. “We have a lot of experience that’s going on, but the good part for both the girls and the boys is there’s a lot of rising mentorship on both teams.”

While JDHS might not have taken home as many accolades as they’d hoped, it was a good showing, and the team is thankful for the support of the community as they raced against runners from all over the state.

“Dimond (High School) and South (Anchorage High School) really brought it. We’re happy, we’re reflecting.” Ellefson said. “Hats off to Juneau for taking care of us.”

The team has a final in-house 1600 meter race and their end-of-season banquet coming up this week, Ellefson said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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